SEATTLE — Thousands of Seattle city workers are frustrated over the city's proposed wage increase with some unions reporting it's falling behind other cities in the region.
“I really like the fact that the library is here to serve everyone," said Anne Cisney. “I think that’s what draws most city employees to this line of work. Public service is a great line of occupation because you get to be out there in the community.”
Serving people is the reason Cisney said she became a librarian 16 years ago. Now, Cisney wonders if the city of Seattle will begin to lose workers.
“It’s really heartbreaking because we want to be here serving our community, doing the things that we have been doing and doing them to the best of our abilities, but we can’t afford to do that,” said Cisney.
6,000 City of Seattle employees represented by 12 unions are speaking out about a 1% wage adjustment increase proposed by the city. Cisney, who is the chapter president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union said some employees are already struggling with inflation.
“If wages aren’t keeping up with inflation and people are being priced out of the city then what happens when power goes down and we need people to bring that up or there’s a snowstorm and we need to open libraries to keep people warm,” said Cisney.
Surrounding city workers represented by AFSCME saw higher cost of living adjustments for 2023. The highest is Tacoma with a 12.5% increase and the lowest is King County with a 4% increase.
In a statement sent from the Mayor’s Office it said in part that the city can’t comment on the specifics of negotiations but went on to say despite forecasts showing significant revenue gaps, workers deserve a living wage.
“The people of Seattle deserve to have a really, highly functioning city and we need employees to be able to be paid appropriately for that to happen,” said Cisney.
The city employees' contract ran out in the fall of 2022 and employees have been working without a contract for all of 2023. Police officers within the Seattle Police Officers Guild have been operating without a contract for two-and-a-half years.